Art Works Blog

Art Works Podcast: Richard Currey

This week's podcast is a little bit different. We wanted to continue the conversation begun with the recent issue of NEA Arts which focuses on the rich intersections of the arts and the military. So, we asked Vietnam veteran and author Richard Currey to share his experiences reading Tim O'Brien's classic novel about that conflict, The Things They Carried. The Things They Carried, which is also a Big Read selection, is a collection of inter-related short stories that is a compassionate and unrelenting description of an American platoon in Vietnam. But the book is also about the centrality of stories in our lives, and the power that describing the indescribable gives the teller of the tale.

Like O'Brien, Currey wrote to give shape and understanding to the experience of war. In fact, O'Brien praises Currey's novel Fatal Light as “one of the very best works of fiction to emerge from the Vietnam War.” According to Currey, in The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien holds a "mirror up to us as humans and to our culture and our history and say(s), 'Look, you know, we can’t really come to grips with any momentous experience unless we learn how to mold that into a story.'" [1:43]

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